Q&A | Hayden Donnell on his band Great North, & losing Sam Prebble

About to complete a 20-date European tour, Great North – at its core wife-husband duo Rachel and Hayden Donnell – play folk with a self-confessed smack of Americana and dad rock. Having recently traded the streets of uptown Auckland for those of Stoke Newington, the two-time winners of NZ’s Folk Album of the Year award decided it was time to do something “ill-advised”, and traded the dream of high-end furniture for more memories in the bank.

The band’s latest album The Golden Age is in many ways an homage to their musical padre Sam Prebble, a loved figure in New Zealand’s music community, and a talented artist in his own right. Sam committed suicide in 2014 and his absence is deeply felt. Here Hayden reflects to Sarah on losing his friend and collaborator, and the wry power of falling forward.

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Peter Skilling: Jacindamania 2017, hope & fear on the campaign trail

In late-July 2017, two months prior to New Zealand’s general election, its Labour Party recorded an historically awful poll result: its 23% popularity was roughly half that of its National Party rival.

By August 1, Jacinda Ardern had replaced Andrew Little as Party leader. Her campaign – based around a promise to address major challenges in the areas of housing, child poverty, water quality and climate change – had a dramatic impact on the Party’s fortunes, and Labour’s final election result was 37%. (Note, though, that support for the centre-left Labour-Green bloc increased by a more modest amount: from 38% in late July to 43%. And National’s election result (44%) was an improvement on its late-July number.)

With the support of New Zealand First, Ardern is now Prime Minister: an outcome that seemed highly unlikely at the end of July.

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